4 Time Indian National Squash Champion
In 2003, Forbes surveyed coaches, trainers and physios to rate sports based on cardio-respiratory endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, calories burnt and injury risk. Squash was rated the healthiest with impressive scores in cardio-respiratory endurance (4.5), muscle endurance (5) and calories burnt (5).
Here is an introduction to the sport and why squash is beneficial to the casual sportsmen interested in staying fit while having fun.
Pic Courtesy squashmad.com
Court: Squash is played on a 9.75 m x 6.40 m wooden court enclosure with the four walls also acting as a playing surface. Detailed dimensions here.
Racquet: The right squash racquet must feel like an extension of your arm. Racquets weigh between 140 g -160 g (with string). If you are starting out, it is advisable to find a balance between power (heavier = more power) and control (lighter = more control). There is a lot more that goes in selecting a squash racquet. Try out different racquets (from friends) before investing in one.
Ball: The squash ball is made of rubber and bounces more when it gets heated after a few rallies. Number of dots and their color indicates the speed and bounce of the ball. In professional squash, the yellow double dot is used. However, a variety of balls are available:
Suggested player level
High altitude play
Juniors / new players
Shoes: Special squash shoes with a non-marking sole customized to grip the wooden court and support the ankles are recommended.
Protective eyewear is also recommended to safeguard from ball-eye injuries. Also, while in play do watch out for your opponents racquet.
A not so large court and the fact that you can hit the ball off any wall mean that it isn’t easy to finish off a point. If you are ready to run, you can reach many balls to continue the rally. The continuous running, lunging, twisting, bending, jumping increases your lower body strength, speed and stamina. And hitting a rubber ball improves your core (abdominal) strength apart from exercising your hand and shoulder muscles.
Players typically stand at the center of the court to ensure they can reach any corner. Between points, players have milliseconds to think, move and hit the next ball. Typically, choosing the shot thoughtfully and getting the placement right is more important than power. Continuous practice will improve your understanding of court geometry, shot selection and hand eye co-ordination.
A 30 minute squash session burns 517 calories (compared to 345 in swimming, 431 in cycling or running). Constant running and extended rallies build muscular endurance and lower body strength apart from burning a lot of calories in a short period.
The rallying demands continuous energy from your muscles. This keeps the heart rate up and makes lungs work at peak efficiency as more blood is pumped to the brain and rest of the body. Higher oxygen boosts endurance and stamina. Besides, the resulting weight loss reduces burden on the heart while improving your general well-being.
If you have never played squash, its time you tried it for a couple of weeks. And then see yourself fall in love with the sport.
Squash is boxing with racquets.
– Jonah Barrington
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mekhala Subedar is a 4 time national squash champion and was recommended for the prestigious Arjuna award in 2001 and 2002. She is a qualified level 2 coach and a certified International Woman Referee. She currently coaches in Bangalore. You can view her full profile here.
spyn is operational in Bangalore and Mumbai. You are welcome to try the concept and give us feedback.
Icons from www.freepik.com